An estimated 40% of elderly adults are zinc deficient, but the elderly aren’t the only ones at risk. Because zinc plays an important role in immune function and growth, it’s presence is important whether you are over the age of 60, under the age of 20, or anywhere in between. A recent study attempted to determine just how zinc can help fight infections, and its results offer some promising data supporting zinc as a non-Big-Pharma health booster.
A research team from Ohio State University discovered that zinc “gently taps the breaks” on an immune response, helping to prevent damaging inflammation.
The researchers determined zinc is lured into immune cells (monocytes) via a protein. It’s within the cells that the zinc essentially stops the immune system from “doing too much”, preventing excess inflammation.
“The immune system has to work under very strict balance, and this is a classic example of where more is not always better,” explained Daren Knoells, senior author and professor of pharmacy and internal medicine. “We want a robust inflammatory response, which is part of our natural programming to defend us against a bug. But if that is unchecked, and there is too much inflammation, then it not only attacks the pathogen but can also cause much more collateral damage.”
The zinc tells the immune system to exercise some restraint, in other words.